Tengendai Skiing Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

  • Vertical (m)
    920 – 1,820 (900)
  • Average Snow Fall
    ?  metres
  • Lifts (4)
    1 ropeway
    3 double chairs
  • Ski Season
    early Dec - mid May
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 4-7
    Longest run – 6 km
    Beginner - 30%
    Intermediate - 40%
    Advanced - 30%
The Tengendai Kogen Ski Area is made up of two very distinct areas. The upper zone is the Tengendai ski resort proper, that has 3 double chair lifts and about 5 courses (depending on what you define as a separate run). Most of the ski area is very mellow, and it becomes painfully flat when there’s a bit of fresh snow.

The lower zone consists of the Tengendai Ropeway and most of the Japanese locals just use it to upload and download to/from the upper zone. There is a very long cat track that drops down to the ropeway base, but it’s really only suitable to use as a home trail or to access the phenomenal tree skiing that lies beneath the cable car.

Lifts

The Tengendai Ropeway gets a whole lot more trade during summer when the hikers come out in their droves, which is probably how the place manages to stay in business. The cable car looks very small, but in winter, numbers are not a problem because barely anyone will be at Tengendai Kogen, except of course for the school kids.

In the upper zone are three consecutive double chair lifts that are painfully slow, especially considering the crap music blaring out of the loudspeakers. And whoever planned where the lifts should start and stop needs to have their head examined, which makes the flat terrain and slow lifts all the more annoying. For example, the Lift 3 trails terminate in a very flat run out that would have been perfect for beginners, had they extended the 2nd lift further up. And to access the ungroomed run off Lift 1, you either have to ride 2 lifts or walk up about 40m or cut through the trees and miss part of the run. And the two beginner runs start with an intermediate run, but that’s more of a problem with the ratings of the trails. All a bit daft.

Lift Tickets

The lift tickets are very reasonably priced by international standards, by relative to other Japanese ski resorts, you don’t get a lot for your yen. We received discounted lift coupons from Nishiya Ryokan which made the lift ticket prices more palatable.

Tengendai Snow

It’s not called Tengendai “Kogen” meaning “highlands” for nothing. The upper elevation of the Tengendai Ski Resort is 1,820 metres which is 160m higher than Zao Onsen and 230m higher than neighbouring Grandeco, and much higher than many of the other Aizu ski resorts.

Tengendai scores lots of snow and the quality up the top stays very good, which is aided by the favourable aspect. All these factors contribute to the long season and make Tengendai a decent choice in early winter or spring.

The Tengendai Kogen ski resort prides themselves on having no snowmaking facilities and 100% powder snow.

As to be expected, the snow quality further down under the cable car is not as primo as up the top, and the aspect is not particularly favourable for the snow quality once the sun comes out. Considering this is the primary terrain that powder hounds want to ride, we’ve incorporated this into our Tengendai snow rating.

Beginner Skiing Tengendai

The trail map indicates two short green runs, but these can’t be accessed without first going on an intermediate run, or an intermediate and advanced run. Thankfully this isn’t the case in reality, because the trail ratings are skewed. The flattest part of the hill is off the 2nd lift, which is rated as intermediate. The other intermediate runs off the 1st lift are also very beginner like. Thankfully the beginners most likely to ride at Tengendai are the school kids.

For the Intermediate

The intermediate runs are really for beginners, and in a similar vein the advanced runs are really intermediate in pitch. The only thing that may make them “advanced” is that they’re not groomed.

Advanced Skiing On-Piste

If you want to remain on-piste you’ll get bored pretty quickly. The very top 50m has enough pitch to have a wee bit of fun, and the ungroomed course off the 1st lift has a little bit of gradient, but just momentarily.

Off Piste Skiing and Riding

Our terminology for “off-piste” is usually within the resort boundaries but because it’s such a narrow ski field, we’ll just refer to it as the trees up the top on either side of the trails.

We found the lack of pitch to be the main problem whereby the tree skiing off the 3rd lift is very short lived before it becomes too flat, especially if the powder is heavy. Some of the snow accumulation on the trees can also impair the flow of riding.

Sidecountry

We’re including the terrain serviced by the cable car as “sidecountry” or “slackcountry” (lift accessed backcountry). The terrain is epic, with runs that drop off the cat track and end up down on a summer road that you can ski down to the ropeway. You’ll want to try to scope your lines first. Those further to skiers’ left tend to be more gnarly whilst those further along the cat track are a bit easier. Some of the ridges turn into mini spines, whilst the gullies are a major terrain trap, so this is not the place for introductory powder hounds.

Backcountry

For a little bit of backcountry, you can skin up to the smaller mountain (lookers’ left) at 1,964m elevation and then enjoy the tree skiing on the way back down to the resort. The trees may be a little tight in places and there are plenty of pillows.

If you head up to the lookers’ right mountain to 2,035m there are some great backcountry routes (near the back of Grandeco) that head skier’s left of the resort and terminate at Shirabu Onsen village or the bottom ropeway station. A couple of routes are popular summer walking tracks that are sign posted.